The beginner’s guide to sleeping bags

7 Sleeping Bags Put to the Test. Photo: C&K magazine

7 Sleeping Bags Put to the Test. Photo: CANOE AND KAYAK

Not all sleeping bags are created equal as CANOE AND KAYAK (C&K) proved when the magazine recently put seven sleep sacks to the test.

The experts at C&K analyzed the sleeping bags by measuring "sleepability," the ability of the sleeping bag to enhance or reduce the quality of sleep, taking away all of the guesswork.

Here are three introductory sleeping bags for the novice outdoorsman.

First, there are a few key terms you’ll need to know:

Insulation: The stuff your sack is stuffed with either comes in down(feathers) or in a synthetic. Ounce for ounce, high-quality down offers more insulation than synthetics but synthetic has two advantages over down: it still insulates when wet and it's cheaper.

Durable Water Repellant (DWR): a coating that makes fabrics water-resistant.

EN Rating: European Norm rating is a rating system for warmth in three ratings: comfort, limit and extreme.

Coleman Silverton 25 ($55)


Coleman Silverton with internal pocket. Photo: C&K magazine

Best for: Those on a tight budget.

“The Coleman Silverman is a synthetic bag comfortable down to roughly 35 degrees," C&K reported. “It's heavy at 3 pound 11 ounces, but has surprising attention to detail for a $55 sleeping bag. The inclusion of a velcro fastener for the zipper is a nice touch as is the internal gadget pocket. The Silverton is too large to fit in a kayak but is suitable for canoe trips with no portages and car camping. And at this price point, you won't have a heart attack if something is spilled on it.”

Read full review here.

Big Agnes Lost Ranger 15 ($279)


Big Agnes Lost Ranger with zipper latch. Photo: C&K magazine

Best for: If you're going to own one bag for mostly car camping and the occasional overnight trip.

“The Big Agnes Lost Ranger is EN rated to a comfort of 27 degrees for the average male, which we found to be accurate in field testing," C&K reported. A durable water repellant shell is filled with 650 fill DownTek, which has a similar weight-to-warmth ratio as a high-end synthetic. With this fill it's no surprise that at 3 pounds one ounces, it's the second heaviest bag. The tradeoff is that it's the most spacious sleeping bag in the review. One could say the Lost Ranger is half sleeping bag, half quilt."

Read the full review here.

REI Lumen ($159-179)


REI Lumen anti-snag zipper. Photo: C&K magazine

Best for: Wet conditions; it has a good price point and packs small.

“The only synthetic bag in our test, the 2 pound, 10 ounce Lumen has nice attention to detail," C&K reported. “EN comfort rated to 31 degrees–just large enough for good sleepability without any excess. Of all the standard mummy shaped bags, the Lumen has the best draft collar, which uses one round and one flat cord for draft collar and mummy hood, making them easy to tell apart by feel in the dark. The zipper is backed by the fantastic anti-snag binding tape. Overall this bag offers great value. It's very much a synthetic goldilocks."

Read the full review here.


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